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Big CA Blacktail

sureshotshane

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Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
Location
CA
This is the story of a blacktail buck I recently killed here in the North Coast of California.

Really the story starts with this thread.

Between taking other hunters out, children, dogs, and life I was able to find one weekend where I could do what I like to do best. Chase big blacktail deer. This was a solo trip besides bringing along my 10 month old Drahthaar puppy. Using a dog for deer is legal in California in certain circumstances, but this dog is not a deer dog. I only brought him along for exposure, such as being quiet while a stalk is made.

I had two days, so the plan was to do an overnighter in the wilderness. I'm thankful to live in the center of good deer country with all sorts of options, I chose a trailhead I'd been wanting to explore but never have actually been out of. I've been very close to the area, perhaps even hunted the same deer but I came in from a different trailhead.

I woke up early Saturday morning and wanted to be walking at the trailhead by shoot light. Well other plans emerged. I ran into some mountain quail on the way so I let the dog out and hunted singles for about an hour. Bagged a couple quail. Flat tire, put on spare. Clean quail and put on ice. Alright, so now it's well past shoot light I arrive at the trailhead.

The hike in was easy, couple hundred feet of elevation climb up on a trail, and drop down the backside of a ridge over a 1000 feet in elevation. Hike out would be the fun part. I could see that the area had received quite a bit of pressure based on the foot prints and evidence of camps. I spent the first evening glassing some great country but seeing no bucks.

I camped on a finger ridge and for my morning sit I glassed the same opposing ridges as the previous evening. I spotted two small bucks down the canyon further. Not what I really wanted but I thought one might be worth a closer look. I very slowly made my way over and arrived where the 2 bucks from the morning were bedded. They were not what I hoped for so I continued up the mountain they were on. The top of the ridge would be a perfect place to glass for my last evening.

Now what I should have done is head home by now because I had to be home by 7 am the next day, preferably with a night of sleep somewhere. But I didn't. I took an afternoon siesta and woke up to amazing glassing. I spotted a giant bear across the canyon, I didn't want to waste time glassing bears since I was after bucks. Just as I was about to avert my attention from the bear, he started to run. He wasn't running away from something though, he was in pursuit. A glance further down the hill and two bucks were running away in full sprint. I could tell from 1/2 mile away and in a run that these were the bucks I wanted. They eventually settled down, and since it was starting to be the time they'd wake up anyways they started to feed.

Where they settled was a good spot. For me that is. They were nestled about 2/3 the way up the ridge between rock outcrops. I could slip in on the neighboring finger ridge and shoot across to them. I figured that would put me right at 300 yards. The bucks held steady. I got to exactly the point I wanted and spotted the smaller of the two bucks, he was a bit more spindly but taller. The other being much more massive and wider. Both 4x4s. The bigger buck was there, but you could just barely see his head and antlers.

When the smaller of the bucks presented a perfect shot at 284 yards - I had to take it. It dropped like a rock, falling over 1000 feet, breaking its jaw on the way down and scratching its antlers up. The other buck came out into the exact opening the other buck was in and stood there for 25 minutes. I had a second tag and considered shooting it too but decided I didn't want to spoil my deer season by ending it so soon.

As it was I didn't get back to the truck until 1 am and was home by 2:30 am.
 

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JF35

Active member
Joined
May 7, 2022
Messages
113
Location
Far Nor Cal
That's a beautiful blacktail. Congrats!

I know people who got really nice ones with the weather we had opening weekend but they don't want me to share on social media.
 

GoGriz

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Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
228
Congrats! Glad you were able to slip that in - now onto planning the next deer plan!
 

sureshotshane

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
Location
CA
That's a beautiful blacktail. Congrats!

I know people who got really nice ones with the weather we had opening weekend but they don't want me to share on social media.

I was like that in the past - totally understand the logic of not sharing on the World Wide Web.

Many of the best hunters will never be known and they want to keep it that way. Some of the biggest blacktail I’ve seen killed will never see the internet. My old boss was/is a hell of a hunter, the amount of knowledge he has on blacktail is immense, it also helps he is a lifelong biologist so has a very scientific mindset. I hope to hunt with him again someday but he says he is getting up there in age and just can’t hang like he used too. He’s killed at least 3 B&C bucks. Years ago I killed a decent 4x4 and I was stoked and brought it to where I worked at the time to show everyone, and along comes the boss with this enormous, perfectly symmetrical 5x5. That buck is engrained in my mind as the perfect blacktail but I’ll never share it or ask to share it on the internet because I know he doesn’t want too.
 

JF35

Active member
Joined
May 7, 2022
Messages
113
Location
Far Nor Cal
I was like that in the past - totally understand the logic of not sharing on the World Wide Web.

Many of the best hunters will never be known and they want to keep it that way. Some of the biggest blacktail I’ve seen killed will never see the internet. My old boss was/is a hell of a hunter, the amount of knowledge he has on blacktail is immense, it also helps he is a lifelong biologist so has a very scientific mindset. I hope to hunt with him again someday but he says he is getting up there in age and just can’t hang like he used too. He’s killed at least 3 B&C bucks. Years ago I killed a decent 4x4 and I was stoked and brought it to where I worked at the time to show everyone, and along comes the boss with this enormous, perfectly symmetrical 5x5. That buck is engrained in my mind as the perfect blacktail but I’ll never share it or ask to share it on the internet because I know he doesn’t want too.
I'm kinda like that myself. I'm from the heart of B6 and I had a awesome wilderness right out my back door growing up. I've saw some the the most amazing sets of antlers in wood sheds. I think the North state is ripe for some amazing critters
 

sureshotshane

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
Location
CA
I'm kinda like that myself. I'm from the heart of B6 and I had a awesome wilderness right out my back door growing up. I've saw some the the most amazing sets of antlers in wood sheds. I think the North state is ripe for some amazing critters

Well you may be one of few people on this board who have ever been to or heard of the town where I live. I’m in Orleans. California has its shenanigans but my home is a world apart. I can access 3 major wilderness areas without barely being on a paved road. My wife wants to stay in California, so I said okay than this is where I want to live. I try to make the most of where I’m at. Sure this area isn’t perfect but I wake up every morning and tell my wife and children “another beautiful day in paradise.”
 

JF35

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May 7, 2022
Messages
113
Location
Far Nor Cal
Well you may be one of few people on this board who have ever been to or heard of the town where I live. I’m in Orleans. California has its shenanigans but my home is a world apart. I can access 3 major wilderness areas without barely being on a paved road. My wife wants to stay in California, so I said okay than this is where I want to live. I try to make the most of where I’m at. Sure this area isn’t perfect but I wake up every morning and tell my wife and children “another beautiful day in paradise.”
Yep I know right where you are, I grew up 40 ish miles up river from you. (HC) I live outside of Redding now but I hunt back home. Take care over there I'm glad the fires kinda stayed away from you guys this year.
 

sureshotshane

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
Location
CA
Yep I know right where you are, I grew up 40 ish miles up river from you. (HC) I live outside of Redding now but I hunt back home. Take care over there I'm glad the fires kinda stayed away from you guys this year.
We took the opposite paths. I grew up in Lakehead (we’d shop in dreadful Redding), and moved to the middle Klamath. There was some other paths along the way but I may never move again.
 

JF35

Active member
Joined
May 7, 2022
Messages
113
Location
Far Nor Cal
We took the opposite paths. I grew up in Lakehead (we’d shop in dreadful Redding), and moved to the middle Klamath. There was some other paths along the way but I may never move again.
I would have never left but the logging died and college and work took me away. I moved back to the North state as soon as I got the chance. I landed in Redding in 2000 and I have a really good job so here I stay. My family still lives up there. I am heading up there this weekend to drop into a hole to see what I can come with.
 

BradA

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Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
588
Guess we know what you will be doing this weekend, going back in there after that other buck
 

sureshotshane

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
Location
CA
Guess we know what you will be doing this weekend, going back in there after that other buck
Haha, not this weekend. I have to work the dogs on some quail and grouse to get ready for an upcoming hunt.

I’ll probably have to slip away during the week although it’s beginning to seem like I may not be able to go back out for myself at all.

If I can I most likely will go to an entirely different area. So many spots I haven’t got to hunt this year. I have mixed results trying to target a specific buck that’s been spooked - the area is so thick with brush they just get that much more cagey and disappear into the night, or 12 foot high manzanita. If I do revisit a spot in the same season I go expecting to target slightly different areas and different bucks, and end up sometimes seeing the same bucks as before.

Folks may disagree but I don’t find there is a shortage of bucks, less deer than in the past I’m sure. The bucks are just so smart it continuously challenges me.

Go in opener of archery and you’ll get a good idea of the bucks in an area, if you aren’t seeing decent numbers scouting in late July and August, move on.

My favorite spot I’ll see upwards of 30 bucks in a weekend during archery - when rifle season opens you’re happy to see 10% of that, but all it takes is 1.
 
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